This month’s alumni spotlight focuses on Mason Ward.
Mason Ward is like most Canadian kids in the fact that he was introduced into the game of hockey at an early age.
What differs Ward and the other kids his age is the location in which he began his hockey journey.
“I started playing hockey at a young age in Sweden,” Ward said. “My dad used to take me out to skate around at the end of his hockey practices.”
Ward’s father, Lance, played in the Western Hockey League with the Red Deer Rebels, before playing in the International Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League and eventually the American Hockey League (AHL).
He eventually tagged onto the Florida Panthers system, splitting time between the AHL team in Louisville and Florida before making his way to the Anaheim Ducks system where he played parts of two seasons with the Ducks in 2002-03 and 2003-04. He finished his North American career with the Binghamton Senators before joining HV71 in Sweden. During that time is when Mason was introduced to the game.
“My dad and grandpa were always my biggest influences growing up,” Ward said. “They have taught me a lot about the game and I credit them for a lot of my success.”
The younger Ward played all his minor hockey in Lloydminster with the Blazers, Heat, Rage and Bobcats before moving onto playing with his dad’s old junior club in Red Deer.
“I think just having good coaches my whole minor hockey career has made me who I am today,” Ward said. “All my coaches have preached working hard and being a good person. Now that I am older I understand how important those values are and how far they can take you in life.”
He spent two seasons with the Rebels, both shortened due to COVID-19 and was moved to the Brandon Wheat Kings. He spent a season and a half in Brandon before getting traded to Swift Current in January 2023 for the final 29 games of his junior career.
The defenceman now plays for the University of Alberta and tries to emulate his game after one of the NHL’s best defencemen.
“I’ve always found watching Victor Hedman very fascinating. He is a big guy that can do it all,” said Ward. “I try to take bits and pieces from his game and implement it into mine.”
The 21-year-old also had some advice for those just starting their hockey journey.
“Just have fun,” Ward said. “Work as hard as you can and see how far it takes you.”